In a consequential announcement, the President of Guyana and Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Irfaan Ali, revealed on Wednesday that the legendary West Indies and Guyanese cricketer, Sir Clive Lloyd, is set to be honored with the Order of Caribbean Community (OCC) Award. This prestigious award, the highest regional honor, is reserved for individuals whose impact on the economic, political, social, and cultural development of Caribbean society is deemed extraordinary.

The award ceremony is scheduled to take place at the CARICOM meeting in July in the picturesque locale of Grenada. This recognition is a testament to Sir Clive Lloyd's remarkable contributions not only to cricket but also to the broader development of the Caribbean community.

Sir Clive Lloyd, an iconic figure in West Indies cricket, steered the team to historic victories during his captaincy. Notably, he led West Indies to triumph over Australia at Lord’s in the inaugural Cricket World Cup tournament in 1975. Four years later, he repeated this feat, guiding the team to another world title by defeating England at the same historic venue.

Having played in 110 Tests and 87 One-Day Internationals, Sir Clive Lloyd stands as one of the most successful cricket captains in history. Under his leadership, the West Indies team achieved unparalleled success, boasting a remarkable 27-Test match unbeaten streak, including 11 consecutive victories.

Beyond his playing career, Sir Clive Lloyd has served cricket in various capacities, including as a former West Indies team manager, selector, and ICC Match Referee. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the sport, he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009.

The announcement of the Order of Caribbean Community Award for Sir Clive Lloyd is met with anticipation and excitement, as the cricketing legend prepares to join the esteemed ranks of individuals who have left an indelible mark on the Caribbean region.

The Comilla Victorians and Fortune Barishal will lock horns to determine the champion of the 2024 Bangladesh Premier League at the Shere-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur on Friday.

The Victorians, home of West Indians Sunil Narine, Andre Russell and Johnson Charles, will be looking for their third BPL title in a row and fifth overall while Barishal, home of Kyle Mayers, Obed McCoy and Yannic Cariah, will be seeking their first BPL crown.

Comilla finished second on the final points table in the league phase and got to the final on the back of a six-wicket win over the Rangpur Riders in Qualifier 1 on Monday.

Barishal, who finished third on the points table, got a seven-wicket win over the Chattogram Challengers in the Eliminator on Monday before upsetting the Riders with a six-wicket win in Qualifier 2 on Wednesday.

The final is expected to be an exciting affair as both teams have registered wins over each other this season.

They first met on January 23 with the Victorians winning by four wickets before, a month later, Barishal registered a six-wicket win.

Individually, the two finalists boast the top two run scorers in this season’s edition of the BPL.

Fortune Barishal will be looking for a big contribution from opener Tamim Iqbal who currently leads the run-scoring chart with 453 runs from 14 innings at a strike rate of 125.48 including three fifties.

Second on that list in Comilla’s Towhid Hridoy with 447 runs from 13 innings at a strike rate of 149.49 including a hundred and a pair of fifties.

Comilla’s Litton Das (375 runs from 13 innings) and Barishal’s Mushfiqur Rahim (367 runs from 14 innings) are also among the top five run getters this season and will be looking to score big in Friday’s final.

As for the bowling side, medium pacer Mohammad Saifuddin has taken 14 wickets at an average of 14.14 for Barishal while left-arm spinner Tanvir Islam has picked up 13 wickets in 12 matches for the Victorians.

Off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz and West Indian left-arm quick Obed McCoy have also been in good form for Barishal with 11 wickets each.

 

With the Diego Martin Sports Complex in Trinidad and Tobago being unavailable, Cricket West Indies (CWI) recently announced venue changes, which will result in Jamaica Scorpions playing their remaining West Indies Championship fixtures at Sabina Park.

The changes affect rounds 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the competition, with venues being shifted to ensure the tournament match schedule proceeds as planned.

According to CWI's Director of Cricket, Miles Bascombe, these adjustments are part of CWI's ongoing effort to provide the best possible conditions for competitive first class cricket and to showcase the talent within the region.

“We have witnessed three very exciting rounds of first-class cricket with thrilling team and individual performances. The stage is now set going into rounds four and five for some teams to try to build on their momentum and others to gather some having had the chance to regroup and rejuvenate. CWI will continue to work with WIPA, our host Boards and venues to ensure that conditions for play are the best on offer given the constraints and that in the end the championship will be decided by the contest between bat and ball," Bascombe said, adding that CWI looks forward to welcoming fans to the new venues and encourage their continued support for their teams throughout the championship.

Among those to benefit is Jamaica's Sabina Park, which up until recently, scarcely hosted any cricket event. After hosting games in the first three rounds of the tournament, the 'Cricket Mecca' as the venue is known, will host another four rounds of games involving the Scorpions.

The West Indies Championship games will be streamed live with ball-by-ball commentary on the Windies Cricket YouTube channel.

Updated Schedule:

Round 4 (March 13 - 16):

CCC vs Leeward Island Hurricanes will now be hosted at the Sir Frank Worrell Cricket Ground (UWISPEC) in Trinidad.

Trinidad &Tobago Red Force vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - Queen’s Park Oval (QPO), Trinidad.

Guyana Harpy Eagles vs Barbados Pride has been moved to the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) in Antigua.

Jamaica Scorpions vs West Indies Academy will take place at Sabina Park in Jamaica.

Round 5 (March 20 – 23):

Jamaica Scorpions vs Leeward Island Hurricanes has been relocated to Sabina Park in Jamaica.

Guyana Harpy Eagles vs Windward Volcanoes has been relocated to CCG in Antigua.

CCC vs West Indies Academy will now be contested at UWI SPEC in Trinidad.

Trinidad &Tobago Red Force vs Barbados Pride – QPO in Trinidad.

Round 6 (April 10 - 13):

CCC vs Trinidad and Tobago Red Force is now scheduled for UWI SPEC in Trinidad.

Jamaica Scorpions vs Guyana Harpy Eagles - Sabina Park, Jamaica.

Leeward Hurricanes vs Barbados Pride - Sir Vivian Richards Stadium (SVRS), Antigua.

West Indies Academy vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - CCG, Antigua.

Round 7 (April 17 – 20):

CCC vs Guyana Harpy Eagles will take place at UWI SPEC in Trinidad.

Jamaica Scorpions vs Trinidad &Tobago Red Force - Sabina Park, Jamaica.

Leeward Islands Hurricanes vs Windward Islands Volcanoes - SVRS, Antigua.

West Indies Academy vs Barbados Pride - CCG, Antigua.

Cameron Green hit a defiant unbeaten 103 as Australia were restricted to 279 for nine on the opening day of the first Test in New Zealand.

Matt Henry claimed four wickets as the home side’s seam attack took full advantage of a green wicket in Wellington.

Henry claimed the wickets of openers Steve Smith for 31 and Usman Khawaja for 33 as Australia limped to 85 for four, the struggling Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head both managing just a single.

Mitchell Marsh provided some support to Green, handed the pivotal number four spot after Smith’s elevation to open following the retirement of David Warner, before Henry had him caught behind for 40.

Green hit 16 boundaries, accelerating through the second half of the day with wickets falling regularly at the other end with variable bounce and seam movement making batting difficult.

Nathan Lyon was the last to go when he was caught behind to give Henry his fourth wicket just before stumps.

There was still time for Green to reach his second Test century, moving through the 90s with three boundaries in the day’s final over.

Essex chair Anu Mohindru insists maintaining anonymity was behind the decision not to name individuals sanctioned over an independent review which found players at the club had been subjected to racist abuse.

A report by Katharine Newton KC published last December found reference to players’ ethnic, racial and religious origins was “entirely normalised and tolerated behaviour” within the dressing-room culture between the mid-1990s until around 2013, under the misguided belief that it was acceptable ‘banter’.

Newton was commissioned to carry out the report in 2021 after allegations of discrimination were made by former Essex players Jahid Ahmed, Maurice Chambers and Zoheb Sharif.

The club revealed on Wednesday that sanctions have now been issued, but have not confirmed who has been sanctioned, how many individuals are involved and what the nature of those sanctions are.

Mohindru told the PA news agency: “I am not going to give a number because it’s about jigsaw identification.

“Everyone who has been implicated and had an adverse finding in the report has been sanctioned in some way.

“When the report came out we gave it to the independent panel, who then had nothing off the table for them at that stage. They could decide what was appropriate from bans, to losing membership to bans from the ground.

“That was then sent back to the board and everybody had an opportunity to make representation with regards to mitigating circumstances or anything we thought the board should take into consideration.

“The board then took the starting point that the panel had thought or the range, took mitigation into place and then we imposed the sanction.

“Each person has been told individually. We haven’t told anybody what anybody else has got and so forth like that. And that’s keeping in line with the anonymity we wanted to keep throughout this.

“It is not a matter of us trying to shut shop, but with regards to the Katharine report, we were very clear in our mind we needed to follow the anonymity that stemmed from the start.”

Mohindru refused to reveal if any of the individuals sanctioned were still working for Essex, but said the England and Wales Cricket Board had been told about all those sanctioned and what those sanctions were.

“I can’t tell you that because again, I can’t confirm or deny that. All I can say is anybody that has been in the report has been sanctioned and there has been an array of sanctions that have been put forward,” Mohindru said when questioned if any of the sanctioned individuals were still at Essex.

“I absolutely understand (criticism) but I need to also keep an eye on people’s welfare and the process we’ve followed from the start. We had to follow legal advice, which we have done all the way through and I think we were in a catch 22.

“If we had revealed it, I am sure we would have been criticised for that and by not revealing it, we’ll be criticised for that, but what I can say is it has been a very strong process.

“The independent panel are an experienced panel that are used to dealing with regulatory as well as sanctions so they would know what would be appropriate. It is my day job as well so I know how to deal with it.

“It is a matter of this board had nothing to do with anything that happened before and it is an independent board that was pretty much elected after all of this started, so we’ve tried to be as fair as possible all across the board in every way. That’s been robust sanctions as well as being fair to the individuals.”

Newton said in her report conclusions that those on the receiving end of discriminatory treatment “were too scared to speak up for fear of damaging their prospects of selection and progression”.

“In any event, there were no effective mechanisms for raising such concerns,” she added.

Her report also found a lack of understanding of the needs of Muslim players at Essex.

Newton also found that the club’s former chairman, John Faragher, used racist language during a board meeting in 2017 and that the club failed to properly investigate a complaint about the language used.

Newton said in the summary report that she had upheld “a number” of complaints of racially discriminatory conduct, and that the perpetrators were named in the full report she sent to Essex.

Newton said one of the players was given the nickname ‘bomber’ following the September 11 terrorist attacks. She also found that the phrase ‘curry muncher’ was “commonly used” in the dressing room to describe individuals of South Asian heritage.

Ahmed, who has been contacted for comment, has previously told PA the term “curry muncher” was directed towards him during his time at the club.

The ECB has not commented on the sanctions. The Cricket Regulator is continuing its own investigation into what happened at Essex, but Mohindru is unsure when it will conclude.

West Indies T20I and ODI skipper Hayley Matthews struck a top score of 55 but it wasn’t enough to prevent her Mumbai Indians Women from going down by seven wickets to the UP Warriorz Women in their Women’s Premier League (WPL) fixture at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Propelled by Matthews’ 47-ball knock including nine fours and a six, Mumbai posted 161-6 from their 20 overs after being put in to bat by the Warriorz.

The Bajan received good support from Yastika Bhatia with 26 and Amelia Kerr with 23.

The Warriorz then needed only 16.3 overs to reach 163-3 and get their first win of the season.

Openers Alyssa Healy and Kiran Navgire all but killed any chance of a Mumbai victory with a rapid opening partnership of 94 in just 9.1 overs.

Navgire led the charge with a top score of 57 off 31 balls including six fours and four sixes. Healy was more measured in her approach, making a 29-ball 33 including five fours.

The finishing touches were put on by Grace Harris and Deepti Sharma who made 38* and 27*, respectively.

Harris’ innings came off just 17 deliveries and included six fours and a six while Sharma’s knock came off 20 balls and included four fours.

Pacer Issy Wong took 2-30 off three overs for the Indians.

 

Essex are not naming the individuals they have sanctioned over an independent review which found players at the club had been subjected to racist abuse and discriminatory treatment.

A report by Katharine Newton KC published last December found reference to players’ ethnic, racial and religious origins was “entirely normalised and tolerated behaviour” within the dressing-room culture between the mid-1990s until around 2013, under the misguided belief that it was acceptable ‘banter’.

Newton was commissioned to carry out the report in 2021 after allegations of discrimination were made by former Essex players Jahid Ahmed, Maurice Chambers and Zoheb Sharif.

The club say sanctions have now been issued, but have not confirmed who has been sanctioned, how many individuals are involved and what the nature of those sanctions are.

“Essex County Cricket Club can confirm that sanctions have been imposed against the individuals implicated in Katharine Newton KC’s independent review into historic allegations of racism,” a club statement read.

“Following the publication of Ms Newton’s report on December 8, 2023, the club commissioned an independent committee who recommended disciplinary measures.

“While the individuals are not named to align with the anonymised report, Essex CCC takes allegations of racism extremely seriously and the measures are a further commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming club for everyone.

“Essex CCC have shared the measures with the England and Wales Cricket Board and reaffirms its pledge to promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion within cricket to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.”

Newton said in her report conclusions that those on the receiving end of discriminatory treatment “were too scared to speak up for fear of damaging their prospects of selection and progression”.

“In any event, there were no effective mechanisms for raising such concerns,” she added.

Her report also found a lack of understanding of the needs of Muslim players at Essex.

Newton also found that the club’s former chairman, John Faragher, used racist language during a board meeting in 2017 and that the club failed to properly investigate a complaint about the language used.

Newton said in the summary report that she had upheld “a number” of complaints of racially discriminatory conduct, and that the perpetrators were named in the full report she sent to Essex.

Newton said one of the players was given the nickname ‘bomber’ following the September 11 terrorist attacks. She also found that the phrase ‘curry muncher’ was “commonly used” in the dressing room to describe individuals of South Asian heritage.

Ahmed, who has been contacted for comment, has previously told PA the term “curry muncher” was directed towards him during his time at the club.

The ECB has not commented on the sanctions. The Cricket Regulator is continuing its own investigation into what happened at Essex.

Fortune Barishal kept themselves in the hunt for a place in the BPL final after they crushed Chattogram Challengers by seven wickets in the Eliminator match in Mirpur on Monday.

Kyle Mayers starred for Barishal with an all-round show, taking two wickets before hitting a rapid half-century.

Barishal lost Soumya Sarkar in the first over of their 136-run chase but Tamim Iqbal and No. 3 Mayers quickly hit back. Tamim struck Al-Amin Hossain for three fours in the second over before Mayers joined in with his first six in the third over. Mayers then blasted Shuvagata Hom for 26 runs in the fifth over, hitting three sixes and two fours.

Mayers got out soon after reaching 50, caught behind off Bilal Khan, having faced 26 balls. He struck five sixes and three fours. Tamim kept the chase on track with his unbeaten 52 off 43 balls, including nine fours as Barishal won with 5.1 overs to spare. Barishal's newcomer David Miller didn't force the issue, hitting 17 off 13 balls before falling for a simple catch to deep midwicket. Mushfiqur Rahim was there with Tamim to complete the chase.

Chattogram earlier had banked heavily on their in-form opener Tanzid Hasan. But he fell in the second over. Saifuddin got the big wicket when he had the left-hander caught behind. Tanzid's opening partner Josh Brown briefly attacked, hitting three sixes and two fours, before holing out at point to Miller. Brown made 34 off 22 balls.

Shuvagata's 24 off 16 balls took Chattogram past the 100 mark, as the Barishal bowlers grabbed the game firmly for the rest of the innings. Mayers, Saifuddin and Obed McCoy took two wickets each while Taijul Islam and James Fuller picked up one wicket respectively.

 

Britney Cooper will lead the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force women’s cricket team for the upcoming CG United Women’s Super50 Cup and T20 Blaze set to take place in St Kitts from March 1-26.

The 14-member squad, coached by Gibran Mohammed with Merissa Aguilleira as assistant coach, also includes West Indies spinner Karishma Ramharack, who will serve as vice-captain.

With four regulars (Anisa Mohammed, Shakera Selman, and the Knight twins, Kycia and Kyshona) in the West Indies Women’s squad over the past decade announcing their retirements last month, CWI will be hoping that the two regional women’s tournaments can unearth worthy replacements.

The T&T squad includes six players that were part the victorious T&T Under-19 team that won the 2022 Rising Star Regional Under-19 tournament in Trinidad and Tobago last year.

Among them are Shalini Samaroo, Shunelle Sawh, Djenaba Joseph, Kd Jazz Mitchell, Samara Ramnath, and Brianna Harricharan.

Ramnath, 16, and Harricharan 15, are the youngest players in the squad.

T&T will open their campaign against the Windward Islands on March 4.

T&T SQUAD: Britney Cooper (captain), Karishma Ramharack (vice-captain), Shunelle Sawh (wk), Samara Ramnath, Djenaba Joseph, Lee Ann Kirby, Kirbyina Alexander, Caneisha Isaac, Brianna Harricharan, Kd Jazz Mitchell, Selene O’Neil, Shanice Pascall, Shalini Samaroo, Steffi Soogrim. Gibran Mohammed (coach); Merissa Aguilleira (assistant coach); Marjorie Thomas (manager).

 

Brendon McCullum admitted it would be “slightly mad” if the progress Tom Hartley and Shoaib Bashir have made on England’s tour of India was stymied by a lack of opportunities at county level.

The spinning duo were uncapped at the start of the trip and held modest first-class records, albeit from small sample sizes, but Hartley is the series’ leading wicket-taker with 20 dismissals in four Tests and Bashir took a maiden professional five-for in Ranchi.

But Lancashire signing Australia star Nathan Lyon this summer places a question mark over how much game time Hartley will get and Bashir is second choice at Somerset to Jack Leach, who will have surgery on a knee injury which ended his tour early and allowed the rookies to shine on the international stage.

While McCullum acknowledged Lancashire and Somerset have their own interests to consider, England’s head coach hopes Hartley, 24, and Bashir, 20, will not fade away in the months ahead.

“We’ve got to keep trying to get cricket into them,” McCullum said. “Whatever opportunity we can we’ll try and give it to them because there’s two guys there more than good enough for international cricket.

“They’re tough characters. We’ve seen both of them have big hearts. It doesn’t get any harder than it is right now and they’ve both stood up and performed so we’ve just to keep giving both of them chances.

“It will be a slight frustration of ours if they weren’t given opportunities at county level. There’s a very real possibility that might be the case.

“But without wanting to dictate to counties because they have their own agendas, when you see performances like we have out of those two bowlers throughout the series, I think you’d be slightly mad if you didn’t give them more opportunities in county cricket.”

England losing by five wickets in Ranchi leaves them 3-1 down with just the final Test in Dharamshala, starting Thursday week, with McCullum suffering the first series defeat of his reign.

There have been just four wins in their last 11 Tests but McCullum is convinced England are a superior team than the one he inherited in May 2022, which had triumphed just once in their previous 17 matches.

“We weren’t quite good enough when it mattered – or India were better, to be honest, than us being not quite good enough,” McCullum said.

“We’ve lost this series and we didn’t win the Ashes (last year) but we’re a better cricket team than we were 18 months ago and we’ve got opportunity in the next 18 months to do some pretty special s***.

“Time on the tools, experience and just keep chiselling away at any of those rough edges which creep up every now and then, which is natural, and we’ll get there eventually.”

McCullum confirmed Jonny Bairstow will play in his 100th Test next week, despite not reaching 40 in the series, but there is scrutiny over seamer Ollie Robinson following a disappointing return to action.

Robinson registered an important fifty in his first competitive appearance since July last year but while pace has never been his biggest asset, he struggled to reach 80mph on the speed gun and sent down six no-balls – taking his career tally to 77, which is one more than his haul of wickets in 20 Tests.

His drop of Dhruv Jurel was a key moment, allowing India to move to within 46 of England’s total after the first innings, while Robinson was not called upon to bowl as the hosts chased 192 to win by five wickets on Monday.

McCullum explained Robinson, who has an impressive Test average of 22.92, felt a twinge in his back, which he has struggled with in the past.

“Everything he did leading into the Test match suggested we’d see not just the Ollie Robinson we’d seen previously but a better version of it,” McCullum added.

“He’s not just as disappointed as everyone else, he’s the most disappointed out of everyone. It’s just sport right? You have great expectations and sometimes you’re not quite able to deliver.”

Three dominant wins in the first three rounds have the Windward Islands Volcanoes holding a comfortable lead atop the points table of the 2024 West Indies Championship as the teams gear up for the season’s resumption after a week off.

The Volcanoes have racked up an impressive 62.2 points (36 match points and 26.2 bonus points) courtesy of a pair of nine-wicket wins over the Jamaica Scorpions and the Barbados Pride in the first two rounds followed by an eight-wicket win over the Combined Campuses and Colleges in round three.

The Leeward Islands Hurricanes sit second with 45.6 points (24 match points and 21.6 bonus points) after two wins and a draw in their first three outings.

The Barbados Pride are third with 43.6 points (24 match points and 19.8 bonus points) after also recording a pair of wins and a draw in their first three games.

The Jamaica Scorpions, who finished at the foot of the table last season, have a win and two losses but sit fourth on the table with 29.6 points mainly due to getting 17.6 bonus points.

The Trinidad and Tobago Red Force (27.6 points), defending champions Guyana Harpy Eagles (26.4), West Indies Academy (24) and the Combined Campuses and Colleges (14.6) round out the rest of the table after three rounds.

Action resumes with the start of round four on Wednesday, March 13 with the Red Force taking on the Volcanoes at the Queen’s Park Oval, CCC facing the Leewards at the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Ground in St. Augustine, the Scorpions hosting West Indies Academy at Sabina Park and the Harpy Eagles facing the Pride at Coolidge.

England’s fourth-Test defeat to India condemned them to a first series loss under the leadership of coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the pair’s record since taking charge in 2022.

First setback

The Stokes-McCullum era began with a spectacular series win over New Zealand in June 2022, England chasing down fourth-innings targets of 277, 299 and 296 to win all three Tests.

They lost the first Test against South Africa later that summer by an innings but responded in kind in the second en route to a 2-1 series win.

A first-innings total of 657 in less than four sessions set the tone for a 3-0 win away to Pakistan in the winter and they then shared a series in New Zealand 1-1.

Last summer’s Ashes were also drawn, 2-2, with Australia retaining the urn but both teams emerging with pride and credit from a thrilling series.

Stokes and McCullum’s side also won a rearranged fifth Test against India in July 2022, which completed the previous summer’s series as a 2-2 draw, and beat Ireland in a one-off Test ahead of the Ashes.

Captain marvel

Stokes still has a 60.9 per cent winning record in Test matches as captain, behind only WG Grace (61.5 per cent) among Englishmen with at least 10 Tests in the role.

He has won 14, lost eight and drawn one of 23 Tests, including one while deputising as captain for Joe Root in 2020.

His personal contributions have been impressive, with 1,342 runs as skipper at an average of 36.27 and a strike rate of 65.62 – up on the respective marks of 35.77 and 57.54 when not captaining the side.

That ranks him fourth among England run-scorers under his captaincy, behind Root (1,737), Zak Crawley (1,531) and Ollie Pope (1,413).

While his bowling has been limited by injuries, his 29 wickets as captain have come at an average of 28.17 – far below his prior rate of 32.74.

Ben Stokes dismissed suggestions England lack a ruthless edge and expressed pride at how his team have fared in Indian conditions after not being given a “chance in hell” of success.

England succumbed to a first Test series defeat under the leadership of captain Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, as India moved into an unassailable 3-1 lead with a five-wicket victory in Ranchi.

India hit back from 177 for seven in reply to 353 to keep the first-innings deficit to 46 then England crumbled from 110 for three to 145 all out on a turning track and could not stop the hosts chasing 192.

The tourists have let slip promising opportunities on several occasions in this series but Stokes is not one for regrets and instead commended Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja for swinging this Test India’s way after they shared all 10 wickets in England’s second innings.

“Everyone goes into the game with their best intentions, when it doesn’t pay off people say we’re not ruthless but when they do, they say we are,” Stokes said. “I don’t really understand the saying.

“We try to do what we think is the best way to win the game. It can be a throwaway comment when people say we’re not ruthless enough. You can say everything is a missed chance when it doesn’t go well.

“When India have a sniff in conditions like that, any team is going to find it hard. When you’ve got three world-class spinners operating in those conditions, you know you’re going to be up against it.

“Nothing is impossible, I wouldn’t say that. But it was nigh-on impossible to operate how we wanted to. Cricket is always skill against skill. On this occasion, their skill was better than ours.”

The chase was far from straightforward for India, who slipped to 120 for five as Joe Root and Tom Hartley snared Yashasvi Jaiswal and Rohit Sharma before Shoaib Bashir claimed a three-wicket haul.

But an unbroken stand of 72 from Shubman Gill (52 not out) and Dhruv Jurel (39no) got India home to dash England’s dream of a series decider in Dharamshala, with the final Test starting on March 7.

India extended a proud winning record at home to 17 successive Test series against an England side who have relied on a rookie spin attack after Jack Leach’s tour-ending injury in the opening match.

“We didn’t have a chance in hell of even competing with India but even that wasn’t an easy win for India and I think they would admit that,” Stokes told the BBC.

He added in his press conference: “We always still felt in the game. Even with 30 runs left we knew that if we went bang-bang, all the pressure was back on India.

“I’m proud of how everyone stuck at their task even if their role was just to be a fielder. That’s what I want from everyone, to never give up because you never know where a game is going to go.

“It’s always disappointing being on the losing team. Obviously we want to win every game we play and win every series.

“You can have it all taken away from you at the click of a finger so why not enjoy every opportunity to play and make sure you are doing it with a smile on your face regardless of what is happening.”

James Anderson bowled a three-over spell but was off the field for much of the fourth day while Ollie Robinson was unused as Stokes stuck with frontline spinners Bashir and Hartley and part-timer Root.

Stokes revealed no risks were taken with Anderson because the 41-year-old was feeling tightness in his quadriceps, having sent down 94 overs in three successive Tests.

“Jimmy’s fine,” Stokes added. “There was no chance he was going to bowl at all in the (rest of the) game.

“You look at risk v reward, there’s not too much reward from Jimmy being out in the field if he’s got a pretty tight quad after playing three back-to-back Test matches in India.”

England’s spinners kept alive hopes of setting up a Dharamshala decider with the fourth Test on a knife edge as India lurched from 84 for none to 100 for three, chasing 192.

India’s propulsion to 40 without loss from eight overs at stumps on day three left them needing a further 152, and Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal found boundaries easy to come by on Monday morning.

But, as the run rate dried up, Joe Root snared Jaiswal for 37 before Tom Hartley nicked off Rohit for 55, with Shoaib Bashir then having Rajat Patidar caught bat-pad as India went to lunch on 118 for three – still needing a further 74 runs to move into an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

On a tricky pitch offering turn and uneven bounce, England will remain optimistic they can level things up before heading to the foothills of the Himalayas for the fifth Test, starting on March 7.

Bashir was bullish about England’s prospects of an unlikely win the previous evening, insisting “we’ve got a chance to be heroes” but there was little to crow about early on.

Rohit lofted James Anderson into the stands beyond deep midwicket for six, with even Ben Stokes nodding in admiration, while Jaiswal – the leading run scorer in the series – used conventional and reverse sweeps to take fours off Bashir and Hartley.

But Bashir and Hartley gradually offered more control and when Root came on for one over, he tossed one up to Jaiswal, who was tempted into a big swing but instead miscued to backward point, where a diving Anderson took a fine low catch.

The big fish was Rohit and England’s animated celebrations – particularly Stokes – upon his dismissal told its own tale.

Rohit advanced to Hartley and seemed to be beaten on the outside edge as Ben Foakes whipped off the bails, but it was subsequently found the India captain had got a tickle to the ball.

Seven balls later, the out-of-form Patidar got an inside edge into his pad to Ollie Pope, who took an excellent catch leaping to his right at short-leg, and England were cock-a-hoop.

Harley scuttled one along the ground to Ravindra Jadeja, beating leg stump and rolling away for four byes – India’s first boundary in 11.3 overs. Shubman Gill (18 not out off 62 balls) and Jadeja (3no off 29) went at a trickle but made sure there were no further casualties.

In a dazzling display of power-hitting, Rovman Powell emerged as the hero for Peshawar Zalmi in a nail-biting encounter against Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League on Sunday. Powell's brisk 46 played a pivotal role in setting the stage for Zalmi's thrilling eight-run victory.

The foundation for Peshawar Zalmi's imposing total of 211-4 was laid by the explosive opening pair of Sayim Ayub and Captain Babar Azam. The duo forged a formidable partnership of 136 runs before the experienced Shahid Afridi made a breakthrough in the 15th over, dismissing Azam for a well-compiled 48.

Ayub, undeterred by the fall of his partner, continued his aggressive onslaught on the opposition bowlers. The batsman hammered eight fours and four sixes on his way to a brilliant 88 before also falling victim to Afridi. With Ayub's departure, it was Rovman Powell's time to shine.

Powell entered the crease with a bang, unleashing a flurry of boundaries and sixes to propel Peshawar Zalmi past the 200-run mark. The Jamaican's exhilarating knock, which included five fours and two sixes, provided the crucial late flourish. Contributions from Mohammed Haris (12 from 5 balls) and Paul Walker (2 from 1 ball) took Zalmi to a formidable total.

In pursuit of the challenging target, Lahore Qalandars relied heavily on Rassie van der Dussen's breathtaking century. The South African batsman displayed remarkable stroke play, amassing an unbeaten 104 from just 52 balls, featuring seven fours and six sixes. However, despite van der Dussen's heroics, Lahore Qalandars fell short by eight runs, finishing at 203-6.

Shai Hope chipped in with 29, and Ahsan Hafeez contributed 20, but they couldn't provide the partnership needed to secure victory. Naveen-ul-Haq, despite being expensive with figures of 2-50 from his four overs, played a crucial role in containing the Qalandars' batting onslaught.

Ultimately, it was Rovman Powell's blistering innings and Peshawar Zalmi's collective effort that secured the thrilling win, marking a memorable encounter in the Pakistan Super League.

 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.